‘Female Viagra’ gets FDA approval

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On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved flibanserin, brand name Addyi, for the treatment of sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women.

WASHINGTON — Women who have lost their sex drive now have a little pink pill to help them. On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved flibanserin, brand name Addyi, for the treatment of sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women.

A 2002 study found that up to one-third of adult women might experience hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a technical term for when women lack sexual desire or fantasy.

In clinical trials, women taking the drug experienced a 37% increase in sexual desire, according to Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which makes the drug.

But safety restrictions on the daily pill mean it will probably never achieve the blockbuster sales of men’s impotence drugs like Viagra, which have generated billions of dollars.

The new drug’s label will carry a bold warning that combining it with alcohol can cause dangerously low blood pressure and fainting. Those problems can also occur if the drug is taken alongside certain common medications, including drugs used to treat yeast infections.

Some experts say that for women, the cure for low libido is more likely to be found in their brains than in a bottle.

“Women’s sexuality is very complicated. It’s not a matter of just taking that pill, by the way, and then all of a sudden the lights go on,” said Judy Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist. “You have to feel good about your body. You have to feel good about yourself. You have to feel the guy really loves you…It’s complex. It’s not the same as a man taking a pill.”

Addyi is frequently referred to as “female Viagra” because it’s a pill for sexual dysfunction in women. However, experts say it’s a misnomer to describe it as such since it works in a distinctly different way to target the brain.

Viagra treats erectile dysfunction, a physical problem, and does not induce sexual desire. Addyi works on the central nervous system, which is why it’s in the same category as an antidepressant.

Another difference is that men take Viagra as needed before a sexual encounter, and women take Addyi once every night.

The Food and Drug Administration approval on Tuesday marks an unusual turnaround for the agency. The FDA previously rejected the drug twice due to lackluster benefits and worrisome side effects.